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In a Dungeon Keeper campaign I am playing, my character has a weakness to cold iron, taking double the damage from cold iron sources. I'm a 5th level druid, for now, and I am looking for ways to mitigate that. My DM told me to shore up that weakness and expect attacks from people wielding cold iron if I don't.

But I haven't had much luck finding a way to avoid the damage. Perhaps the only way is to avoid damage from slashing and piercing weapons? I donno.

The weakness comes from my race, which is Verdant Prince, from MM IV without using racial hitdice. I have 9k gold and all WOTC sources are open.

Dungeon Keeper is where you are the BBEG of a dungeon, and adventures come into your lair to be murdered.

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let us continue this discussion in chat – DuckTapeAl Feb 8 '14 at 0:56
I've posted my answer, but another slightly less related suggestion is to use the weakness as a role playing hook. Try finding interesting ways to react when you encounter a cold iron weapon. In my experience most players want to eliminate all weaknesses, but it is often the flaws that make the characters truly lifelike and memorable. – Ryan Raten Kuhar Feb 8 '14 at 1:19
up vote 6 down vote accepted

"Marge... sometimes the best defense is a good offense." - Homer Simpson

You need to not get hit by cold iron weapons. At the end of the day, that's the only real way to negate that vulnerability. There's ways to mitigate it somewhat (raising your AC with Barkskin and items, spells like Stoneskin or Heart of Earth to get better damage reduction), but you just need to not get hit.

Hiding is obvious, but you're stuck in a room and enemies are coming to you. So that's not really viable. What to do? Be offensive in a way that forces them to fight on your terms, where they can't bring those dangerous weapons to bear against you.

Animal Companion

As a Druid, you have an animal companion. It does not have Cold Iron vulnerability. Use it to your advantage. Animals with Improved Trip can trip enemies and keep them from getting to you (Wolves can do this, at higher level Dire Wolves are quite good at it).

A grappling companion can grab someone and lock it down, keeping it from being able to attack you at all. Anything with Improved Grab is good for this (Leopard has it at your level, Brown Bears & Dire Lions are popular choices, but above your level).

Don't forget that you can heal and buff your companion. You want them to be tough and tie stuff up while you attack from a distance.


Druids are good summoners. Bring in some extra monsters to tie up attackers and keep them off you.

Wild Shape

You've got Wild Shape, which opens up some similar possibilities to what an animal companion can do. Particularly, grappling.

That might seem counter-intuitive, but once you can turn into large size creatures you can grapple medium size heroes pretty easily. A grappled creature can only use natural and light weapons. No hindrance to you at all... big problem to the Fighter with the Cold Iron Longsword.

He can't use it while in a grapple. Your weakness doesn't matter at all if he can't use his weapon. Also works on spellcasters, since it's much harder to cast while a bear is sitting on you clawing your face.

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You probably lose the penalty in Wild Shape for that matter, since it's a racial quality. – KRyan Feb 8 '14 at 22:35

If the weakness was to something as simple as an element such as fire or cold this would be an easy solution, there are several spells that can fix those. When it comes to something like a special material I would recommend just making it harder for enemies to hit you.

One way to do this is to increase your AC. Just from druid spells castable at level 5 in the Player's Handbook you could use Barkskin and Cat's Grace to improve your AC.

Another option using spells from the Player's handbook is to render their weapons useless. For metal weapons you could use Chill or Heat metal, or for wooden weapons, like a bow firing cold iron arrows, you can use Warp Wood.

Perhaps the only way is to avoid damage from slashing and piercing weapons?

For that there are several types of shirts in the Magic Item Compendium starting at page 134 that provide damage reduction. However they are expensive, beyond what you can afford at the moment but you should keep them in mind for later levels.

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Heat and chill metal don't actually harm the weapons. Also, since most weapons will weigh less than 20% of the weight of their wielders, those spells will deal minimum damage, which isn't very much. – DuckTapeAl Feb 8 '14 at 1:47
So it would, I missed that part. Those spells came to mind right away because heat metal was the cause of death of the first character I ever had die. A better option, but not available until a later level is Rusting Grasp. – Ryan Raten Kuhar Feb 8 '14 at 1:55

In short, there isn't any way to directly mitigate this weakness. The idea of damage multipliers based on material types is very rare, to the point where there aren't really options to help with that problem directly.

However, you have some defensive options at your disposal that may help you regardless.

  1. Do everything you can to increase your AC. You get your charisma bonus to AC as a Verdant Prince, you can use Barkskin as a druid, and decent armour should all be priorities.
  2. Stay mobile and away from enemy attackers. Take advantage of your at-will dimension door, and do what you can to stay out of range of your enemies. If there are tall trees nearby, you may be able to dimension door into the branches, and fight from there. You may find the Feather Token, Tree to be useful here. You can also use your Changestaff SLA to create a plant creature to dimension door from once per day.
  3. Make strategic use of your repel metal ability. That spell will stop any cold iron weapons well away from you.
  4. Get DR. You don't have many options for this right now, but Stoneskin should be a priority.
  5. Don't be a afraid of a tactical retreat. If you turn into a small, mobile, and easily hidden animal form with Wild Shape and keep teleporting around with Dimension Door, you'll be a lot harder to pin down and hit.
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Employ the Verdant Prince's Use Magic Device Skill

The printed verdant price (MM4 172-3) has the extraordinary ability evasion and a Use Magic Device skill of +19 (and +21 with scrolls). I don't know the house rules you're employing for your verdant prince Drd5, but with 9 ranks in the Use Magic Device skill (which, as a dude who's running a dungeon, you should have) and that massive +10 to your Charisma score, using magic devices shouldn't be that challenging.

I suggest a scroll or two of or a staff incorporating the 6th-level wizard spell starmantle [abjur] (BE 108) because for 1 min. per caster level the spell starmantle

renders the wearer impervious to nonmagical weapon attacks and transforms any nonmagical weapon or missile that strikes it into harmless light, destroying it forever. Contact with the starmantle does not destroy magic weapons or missiles, but the starmantle’s wearer is entitled to a Reflex saving throw (DC 15) each time he is struck by such a weapon; success indicates that the wearer takes only half damage from the weapon (rounded down).

Yes, that's a Reflex saving throw for half (that the printed prince fails only on a 1), so the benefits of evasion happen. That makes this spell more of an avoid damage from all weapons thing than an avoid damage from cold iron weapons thing, but it's still within your means. Although 9,000 gp isn't a lot, only 1,670 gp buys an arcane scroll of starmantle (6th-level spell at caster level 11), and a used staff of starmantle (6th-level spell at caster level 11) costs 300 gp for the masterwork staff then 1,010 gp per charge.

When you're rich beyond the dream of avarice because of your awesome murderation of foolish adventurers, you can dispense with pretense and just buy a starmantle cloak (BE 116) (132,000 gp; 1 lb.) and have the effects of the spell starmantle continuously.

Alternatively, you could instead employ the Use Magic Device skill to cast the 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell lesser ironguard [abjur] (SpC 125) somehow, but the one-round-per-caster-level duration and continued vulnerability to magic weapons are considerable downsides to that spell. The greater version (SpC 125) is worse still: although that version affects magical weapons, it's a 7th-level Sor/Wiz spell with a 100 gp material component--so don't bother. Go with the spell starmantle.

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Definitely a good idea, but the question mentions that he doesn't have the racial hit dice and thus doesn't have a UMD score that high. – Tridus Feb 8 '14 at 13:26
No, the effects of evasion don't apply, because evasion specifically talks about damage you could normally avoid with a reflex save. You can't normally avoid damage with a Ref save (you only can if you have Starmantle on you). There's space for some arguing on what "normally" means, though, so it might still be valid for some DMs. Having a ring of evasion and a Starmantle giving a character immunity to every weapon, however, makes many DMs go with my interpretation of the rules. – Zachiel Feb 8 '14 at 13:27
@Zachiel Yeah, arguing the definition of the word normally in game that swims in magic is problematic. Further, by the time a PC can afford a 25,000 gp ring of evasion and a 132,000 gp starmantle plus other adventuring gear (i.e. 15th-16th level), immunity to weapon damage is a just a good trick; things that kill you are mainly spells anyway. – Hey I Can Chan Feb 8 '14 at 18:23
You know, arguing the definition of the word normally in a game that never provided the definition and still uses that word everywhere is what is really problematic. – Zachiel Feb 9 '14 at 13:47

Can you overcome your weakness?..Yes and no

This answer depends on your DM being ameniable with their reading/ruling of the rules.

There are 2 feats (technically a mini feat chain) in the Draconomicon that do this: Supress Weakness & Overcome Weakness. But, there's a catch.

The Catch(es)

  1. Obviously, your DM has to allow this book
  2. This is a chain of feats that has an initial prereq which must be met (Iron Will, Supress & Then Overcome)
  3. Your DM must allow your character to take "Monstrous Feats" (Since you have this vulnerability then I would assume your race would generally qualify if it was an NPC, if so as a GM I would allow this one)
  4. Your DM must read these feats very..liberally (because:)

Supress Weakness Prereq: Iron Will & Vulnerability to "Energy". Technically, Cold Iron isn't an "energy", so it might get nixed right there. However, reading the description it says: "

You can partially suppress your vulnerability to a type of element or energy (emphasis mine).

It could be argued (remotely) that Cold Iron should classify as an element. That's a hard sell for someone who insist on RAW. But, with a generous DM they might allow it, I might.

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I so want this to work, but its not the element that's the problem, but the definition of vulnerability. Despite that, I searched the SRD for elements, and traps, the Sleight of Hand skill, and terrain ("The most important terrain element in a forest is the trees") all have elements, so, um, yeah, there's some funny wiggle room in that direction. – Hey I Can Chan Feb 9 '14 at 14:57
True double dmg vs 150% dmg is a big difference, but I think it's close enough. (AS a DM I would adjust how those feats effect you though. Each feat is taking away 25% to get to 100% dmg, but I would not grant you 2 to get to 100% dmg; either 3 feats for 100% or keep 2 feats but it just drops weakness to 150%..which leads me to my next comment: – Ben-Jamin Feb 9 '14 at 17:48
While this is the most direct answer to your question I could find, I don't think it's really worth the cost. Think about it; when is the last time you came across someone wielding a cold iron weapon? Most people just dont carry them. Sure, if you've been building up to an enemy he will know & be prepared for your weakness & he might even outfit some of his minions with them, but most encounters this will simply not be worth the cost, imho – Ben-Jamin Feb 9 '14 at 17:50

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